tv PBS News Hour PBS February 3, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. attorney general holder defended charging the alleged christmas day airline bomber in the civilian courts. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight we get two views on where and how to prosecute terror suspects from former attorney general michael mukasey and yale law professor eugene fidell. >> lehrer: then, the latest on the bomb in northwest pakistan that killed three american soldiers-- the first u.s. military casualties in the lawless border region.
>> woodruff: the ongoing struggle to restore basic services in haiti. ray suarez reports from port-au- prince. >> with the medical emergency increasingly under control, attention is now turning toward getting food and water, sanitation, and security to one million homeless haitians. >> lehrer: a debate about president obama's plan to help small businesses. >> woodruff: and jeffrey brown reports on how ancient greek drama is helping to fight post- traumatic stress in today's military. >> my name is a sad song. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: the obama administration stepped up its defense today of how it's handling terror cases. that followed reports that a nigerian man is telling what he knows about the airliner bombing attack last december. "newshour" correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage. >> reporter: it's not clear exactly what he's saying, but by all accounts, umar farouk abdulmutallab began cooperating with the f.b.i. last week. he allegedly tried to blow up an incoming transatlantic flight over detroit on christmas day. after the plane landed, he spoke
briefly to investigators, then was read his rights, asked for his lawyer and stopped talking, until recently. at a late night briefing at the white house, administration officials said abdulmutallab's family members were flown from nigeria to the u.s. to help persuade him to answer questions. they said he supplied information about his contacts in yemen, where allegedly he was trained by alqaeda and talked about intelligence related to multiple terror threats. top intelligence officials have said they were not immediately consulted about how to handle abdulmutallab. but today, attorney general eric holder took responsibility. he said suspects captured inside the u.s. always have been placed in the federal courts. he wrote to senate republican leader mitch mcconnell, saying: "no agency has since advised the department of justice that an alternative course of action should have been pursued." holder's statement followed growing republican criticism.
over the weekend, maine senator susan collins charged the obama team has "a blind spot" when it comes to fighting terrorism. and south carolina senator lindsay graham followed up yesterday. >> it makes no sense to capture someone fresh off the battlefield and within 50 minutes, read them their miranda rights and lose all the intelligence they possess. >> reporter: but at a senate hearing that same day, f.b.i. director robert mueller insisted no intelligence was lost. >> in the initial interview, we had to determine whether there were other bombs on the plane, whether there were other planes that had similar attacks contemplated, wanted to understand who the bomb maker was, who had directed him. all of that came in the first series of questions. >> reporter: and today, white house officials rejected complaints that they should not have let it be known that abdulmutallab is talking again. >> the reason people were told about the success of these
interviews didn't have anything to do with politics. these interrogations are working. they're getting evidence that is actionable, and we're pursuing the right course. no information that was given out over the course of those briefings compromises that in any way. >> reporter: in the meantime, the director of national intelligence, dennis blair, has voiced new concern that another attack on the u.s. could come soon, in the next three to six months. >> lehrer: for more on how terror suspects should be handled. michael mukasey was attorney general during the last year of the bush administration. he is now an attorney in private practice in new york. and eugene fidell is president of the national institute of military justice, and a senior research scholar at yale university law school. first, mr. mukasey, do you believe specifically that the christmas day bomber should be handled through federal civilian court? >> in a word, no.
certainly , the decision should not be made immediately to do that. i think the first concern should have been to use him not as a defendant but as an intelligent asset and to treat him in that fashion until a decision was made about where ultimately to prosecute him. >> lehrer: then what would have been his status then during that interim time? would he have been considered somebody fresh off the battlefield, as senator graham said, or what would have been his status? >> he would have been considered an unlawfull combatant. there have been others arrested in the united states-- not withstanding what is in the attorney general's letter-- which were treated as unlawfull combatants and i can think of at least two of them. >> lehrer: mr. fidell, you disagree with that. you think the way the u.s. government and specifically attorney general holder proceeded is correct, right? >> i do. i think that the administration brought to bear the proper questions.
they asked the proper questions. and what they did in this case is totally consistent with the pattern that the department of justice has evolved over the period since 9/11. >> lehrer: mr. mukasey says there are at least two example where's somebody who was arrested in the united states on a terrorism-- was in fact taken through military channels. do you dispute that? >> right. the cases-- you have to be specific, jim. the cases are the cases i believe of mr. padoa and the case of mr. almari. both of those cases sort of wove a meandering course between the federal district courts and military commission system and wound up right back in the federal district court where they were convicted and they received very long jail terms. so although there have been miscues-- and i think there were miscues in both of those cases-- at the end of the day they were handled exactly consistently with what attorney general holder has done in the case of mr. abdulmutallab. >> lehrer: mr. mukasey
, you were shaking your head just now? why? >> i guess i should have held a stone face as some people suggest justice alito should have done but i couldn't resist. >> lehrer: what's wrong-- we don't want to go through too much-- too much of the weed here's. let's just get to the point. >> okay. >> lehrer: why is it that you believe that people like the nigerian involved in the christmas bombing should be handled through a military way, at least in the beginning, rather than a civilian court in the beginning? >> because his principal value was as an intelligence asset. the first intercepts on him went back to august. we knew he had obviously been trained by somebody. the bomb he hadn't made himself. somebody else had made it. he said there were other people on the way. he should have been questioned not only bay people who were trained interrogators, but by people who knew a substantial amount about al qaeda and yemen. and those people were not to be found immediately in detroit. then there should have been an opportunity to check that
information out and to come back to him with additional requests. it wasn't simply a matter of getting a few dribbles of information out of him and then making due with that. >> lehrer: mr. fidell, what would be your problem with having done it that way? >> it's not my problem. the problem is the constitution of the united states. the constitution provides that people who are undergoing custodial interrogation-- and that includes this individual-- have a right to remain silent, that anything they say can be used against them and to be provide an attorney. that, seems to me, has to be respected, and i'm concerned that the position that attorney general mukasey is espousing and some of the highly respected republican members of the u.s. senate have been espousing, gives the constitution second place. and i think by doing that , we lose the major battle here, which is to preserve our country
and our country's institutions and values. >> lehrer: mr. mukasey, you want to give the constitution second place? >> not at all. the constitution is not a treaty with the world. it's a pact under which we have organized -- it's a law, i should say-- under which we've organized the government of the united states. it does not require that we treat every unlawfull combatant as a criminal defendant. in point of fact, when the germans landed saboteurs on long island and off florida, those people were treated as unlawfull combatants. they were prosecuted before a military tribunal in washington-- notwithstanding that the court were open-- and were executed and all of that tooklace within three months of the time they landed. >> lehrer: mr. fidell-- go ahead sir. >> the issue with regard to abdulmutallab, though, is not prosecution. it is intelligence. and that has
a very short shelf life, some of it. some of it is durable. some of it isn't. and we should have been at that right away. i understand-- >> let me speak--. >> lehrer: what about that-- >> yeah, i would like to respond to that. there are times-- and i know attorney general mukasey understands this from his personal experience both in that position and as a federal district judge-- but there are times when any prosecutor has to make hard choices and you might have to make the hard choice of extracting information from somebody in violation of the miranda decision of the supreme court and recognize that you're going to harm your opportunity to prosecute that individual in the future. those are terrible choices. i think attorney general holder is enough of a prosecutor and learned enough in the law to understand those choices, and i must say, i don't feel people should be secondguessing his judgment on the administration of justice. moreover, i think it should be emphasized we have a very hands-on president of the united
states, who unlike many of his predecessors, is not only an attorney but an extremely capable attorney. and to do armchair, you know, philosophizing about this when these people are trying to get on with seeing that the laws are enforced i think is extremely unfortunate. >> lehrer: mr. mukasey, what about that? the president of the united states and the attorney general of the united states have made this decision. what's wrong with leaving it with them? >> uhm, it is their decision to make. however, i was invited on this show to give my opinion. >> lehrer: absolutely. >> and i'm happy to give my opinion of. >> lehrer: but i mean you don't feel that the decisions were wrong. you do feel the decisions were wrong and should be reversed? >> i do feel the decisions were wrong because the only downside of interrogating him immediately without a lawyer is if they subsequently decided to prosecute him in a civilian court, which itself is debatable. but let's say you assume they will do that. the only thing that's lost is his confession.
and given the fact that he committed his offense in front of 285 witnesses, that's not a big loss. >> lehrer: what do you think, mr. mukasey, the action of the united states congress to withdraw funding for not only this case but all cases , terrorist cases that are going to be tried in federal criminal court? do you think that's a proper way to kind of regulate this? >> i'm really saddened by that. i think it's not a way -- it should not have been to be a way to regulate it. i believe that the executive should make these decisions and should make them appropriately. congress has the power to withdraw funding. but i'm-- i think it's a very sad day when congress gets involved in the day-to-day handling of cases. the fact is that there may be very good reason for them to do, that but it saddens me, as a matter of the way our system should function, that it has come to that.
>> lehrer: in a word, mr. fidell you also believe this is a sad day. >> i think it's worse than sad. i think it's quite concerning because of the constitutional implications. number one, it's left up under the constitution to the president to take care that the laws are enforced. and to manipulate the jurisdiction and resources of the federal district courts raises a separation of powers issue, and i think it tarnishes what all americans believe the jewel and the crown of our legal system, the federal court. >> lehrer: okay, we'll leave it there. mr. mu kansas, mr. fidell, thank you both very much. >> woodruff: now, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: a motorcycle bomb tore through a crowd of shi-ite pilgrims in iraq today, killing at least 23 people. the blast erupted outside karbala, during an annual religious procession. more than 120 iraqis were wounded. on monday, a bombing in baghdad killed at least 54 people taking part in the pilgrimage. also today, an iraqi appeals court allowed hundreds of
candidates to run in next month's parliamentary elections. they had been barred for alleged ties to saddam hussein's regime. in afghanistan, u.s., afghan, and nato troops are now gearing up for their largest joint offensive yet. u.s. military officers said today the target is marjah, a taliban stronghold in the south. it is also a hub for the opium trade. the operation could begin within days. secretary of state hillary clinton has ruled out a prisoner swap with iran. iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad had suggested trading three american hikers held in iran for 11 iranians held by the u.s. clinton said the hikers and other americans detained in iran are being held unjustly, and should be freed immediately there was new trouble for toyota today-- this time, involving complaints over brake issues. the company also drew a new warning from transportation secretary ray lahood. >> my advice is, if anybody owns one of these vehicles-- stop driving it, take it to a toyota dealer.
>> sreenivasan: the secretary delivered that stark advice to a house committee hearing this morning. later, after reporters asked about his statement, his tone softened slightly. >> what i meant to say... what i thought i said was, if you own one of these cars and are in doubt, take it to the dealer and they're going to fix it! >> sreenivasan: lahood's words were meant for the drivers of 2.3 million cars and trucks across the u.s. that may have problems with gas pedals that stick. last month, toyota recalled and stopped u.s. sales of eight models. on monday, the company announced it's found a fix. but lahood said the national highway traffic safety administration, nhtsa, had to pressure the company. >> acting nhtsa administration went to japan and told them in no uncertain terms, you need to get on this-- got a problem fix it, find it. as a result of that meeting, they began to take seriously the fact. they believe they found the fix.
>> sreenivasan: that may not be the end of it. lahood said nhtsa is investigating whether the problem is really toyota's electronic throttle control systems, something the company denies. and the popular prius hybrid came under the spotlight today. it was not involved in the gas pedal problem, but toyota reported more than 100 complaints of brake issues on the cars in both the u.s. and japan. in the meantime, the auto maker has offered to pay dealers up to $75,000 apiece for working extra hours to cover the recall. for the record, toyota is one of the "newshour's" underwriters. insurance giant a.i.g. has paid another $100 million in bonuses to employees in its financial products division. that unit ran the trading which nearly sank the company and led to a government bailout totaling $180 billion. reports today said most of the employees agreed to take smaller bonuses than they were due, under their contracts, which were agreed to before the
government bailout. wall street stumbled after two days of triple-digit gains. the rally stalled in part because growth in the service sector was weaker than expected in january. the dow jones industrial average lost 26 points to close at 10,270. the nasdaq rose less than one point to close below 2,191. president obama appealed to senate democrats today to "finish the job" on health care and work on the economy. he said they "still have to lead" despite losing a crucial seat in massachusetts and with it their super-majority. >> if anybody is searching for a lesson from massachusetts, i promise you the answer is not to do nothing. the american people are out of patience with business as usual. they are fed up with the washington that has become so absorbed with who's up and who's down that we've lost sight of how they're doing. they want us to start worrying less about keeping our jobs and worrying more about helping them keep their jobs. >> sreenivasan: last friday, mr. obama addressed house
republicans. he warned again today he'll confront those who refuse to cooperate. >> when i start hearing that we should accept republican ideas, let's be clear, we have. what hasn't happened is the other side accepting our ideas. and i told them i want to work together when we can and i meant it. i believe that's the best way to get things done for the american people but i also made it clear that we'll call them out when they say they want to work with us and we extend a hand and get a fist in return. >> sreenivasan: republicans could gain their 41st vote in the senate sooner than expected. senator-elect scott brown of massachusetts has moved up his timetable and asked to be sworn in tomorrow. democratic leaders say they will comply. the field has narrowed in the race for the senate seat once held by president obama. on tuesday, illinois state treasurer alexi giannoulias won the democratic nod to face off against five-term republican
congressman mark kirk. the outcome of the state's gubernatorial primaries remained in doubt. those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you'll find tonight on the "newshour's" web site. but for now, back to jim. >> lehrer: and still to come on the "newshour": the struggle to rebuild haiti; how best to help small businesses; and the healing power of ancient greek tragedy. >> woodruff: that follows the latest on the deadly bombing in pakistan. gwen ifill has the story. >> ifill: charred metal was all that was left after a convoy of u.s. and pakistani troops ran into a roadside bomb near the afghan border. three americans were killed and two were wounded. >> the situation was miserable there at the blast scene. vehicles and the nearby houses were badly destroyed. >> ifill: the blast also killed three students at a nearby girls' school and wounded more than 100 other pakistanis. the american deaths were the first known to involve the u.s. military
in pakistan's volatile tribal regions. they also drew attention to the u.s. role in training pakistan's paramilitary frontier corps. the attack came in the lower dire where pockets of taliban militants remain, despite a government offensive last year. a taliban statement claimed those killed were private security contractors employed by the u.s. firm once known as "blackwater," but president obama's envoy to the region, richard holbrooke, said they were soldiers. >> the facts are the facts and when... and in the appropriate moment, after notification of next-of-kin and appropriate things. i'm sure their names and their exact rank will be publicly disclosed, as we always do. there's nothing secret about their presence there. >> sreenivasan: in spite of an influx of new aid from legislation sponsored by sens, john kerry and richard lugar, u.s.-pakistan relations have been tense. unmanned american drone aircraft
have also recently stepped up attacks on taliban leaders believed to be in pakistan including a 17-missile strike yesterday that was the largest yet. the pakistani taliban continues to deny that its leader, hakimullah mehsud, was killed in similar drone attack last month. >> ifill: and for more, we turn to saima mohsin, a senior anchor for dawn tv, a 24-hour english language news channel in pakistan. she joins us from islamabad. saima mohsin, thank you for joining us. what do we know about the bombing in northwest pakistan. >> reporter: these were people from the united states training the paramilitary soldiers in the tribal areas. it's been an ongoing process over the last two years here. they were on their way to a school that had recently been renovated using u.s. aid money, and they were invited as guests, as a vote of thanks, really.
they were part of a convoy on their way when they hit what we understand was a roadsame bomb. alongside the three u.s. military personnel who were killed with three school girls and also, more than 100 school girls have been injured in this. we've been speaking to the hospitals there, and they say that most of these are young girls came in with shrapnel wounds. >> ifill: the u.s. special envoy richard hole brook said this operation wasn't a secret one. was it well known they were all there? >> whether people knew this group was actually working and operating in this specific area is not known at the moment, but as i said, this has been an ongoing program. it's been made public. people have talked about how united states personnel were going to come over to pakistan to train the frontier corps personnel here but we don't know how much knowledge there was and this at this point in time is a big question-- whons about which u.s. projecting are being conducted
in the tribal areas, in the nwft, or fatah on the border region. that is, of course, a huge concern to the united states, and, of course, pakistani authorities, because they are under the kerry-lugar bill and hundreds of projects they're planning on working on. so right now, what i'm being told is they're reviewing those and addressing what kind of security threat there are. >> ifill: the pakistani taliban has claimed responsibility for this, whatever that means. do we know whether they were targeting the frontier corps or were they targeting u.s. trainers? >> reporter: again, was this pot luck? were they targeting a convoy? we know this was a publicized event in terms of the fact that it was the inauguration of this school. it was renovated and, obviously, people in the area will have known that this was u.s. aid money that had renovated this school. but as to whether
this was part luck or a targeted bombing we're not sure just yet. we're waiting to hear. i've been speaking to u.s. embassy personnel today as well. what we're not sure of is whether this convoy happened to be passing and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or whether the ie.d. device was planted there for the school. >> ifill: what has been the reaction to this news? >> reporter: there is hostility to the presence of the u.s. aid workers or u.s. military personnel. we all know the u.s. boots on the ground in tribal areas last year. but at the moment, there's all sorts of speculation. there's been a huge scandal over the presence of blackwater. there's been issues as to what projects are being conducted by u.s., and, of course, we also know the controversy surrounding
the ker-lugar bill. so a lot of hostility towards u.s., be they aid worker or military personnel operating in these areas. >> ifill: at the same time that this is happening there have been conflicting reports about the death of a taliban leader. have we heard anything more about that, any confirmation? >> reporter: well, of course, gwen, the taliban is insistant that he is not dead. this was, of course, the leader that stepped into the shoes of a leader who was killed in a u.s. drone strike last august, in august 2009. he had appeared in a video a few months ago, and the taliban are denying he's been killed by this u.s. drone attack. however, they haven't actually come forward with any kind of evidence to prove that he hasn't been killed or seriously injured in this attack, and be that in the form of a video or a telephone call. they usually,
the taliban, call local journalists who recognize a voice and say yes this is him. the taliban are denying it. both u.s. and pakistani intelligence officials are still trying to confirm that. >> ifill: there's a lot more uncertain than certain there in pakistan tonight. saima mohsin from dawn tv, thank you so much. >> reporter: thank you. >> lehrer: haiti is next. some parents in a village outside the capital told the associated press today they willingly gave their children to american missionaries. that contradicts claims by the baptist group's leader that the children came from orphanages or distant relatives. and at the united nations, secretary general ban ki-moon asked former president bill clinton to coordinate international relief efforts. ray suarez reports on the enormous challenges still ahead to find shelter and food for earthquake victims. >> suarez: on the day before the earthquake, port-au-prince and
nearby towns formed a sprawling, crowded metropolitan area of something approaching three million people. after january 12, here's a rough, thumbnail census: about a million still live in intact homes; about a million have fled to the countryside; and about a million are still here with no place to live. the homeless have stripped branches from trees, pounded them into the ground; rigged up tarps and bedsheets; hauled scrap wood and metal away from damaged buildings; and built a constellation of teeming cities, within the city. the settlements have no running water, no garbage collection, few systems for collecting human waste. they'll do for now because there's really no other choice. the haitian government has scrambled to put together a plan to house hundreds of thousands of people before the spring rains begin, even as new makeshift camps spring up on every empty patch of ground.
patrick delatour, the minister of tourism in the haitian government, has been appointed by president rene preval to run the assessment of damage, and building of new shelters and structures. his office is really the cell phone constantly at his side and in his ear as he rushes from meeting to meeting. >> we are dealing with a people that has 200 years of individual survival skill, and they are making decisions independently of the government and not waiting for the government. >> suarez: which is good and bad. across from the ruins of the national palace thousands of people have settled on the grounds of a national park. there is a barber shop, an internet cafe and the mouth- watering smell of food cooking wafting through the camp. it shows how resourceful, and tough, these people really are. but also how hungry, and increasingly, impatient. this is the mais gate camp out near the airport. between 10,000 and 12,000 people on a few acres by a traffic
circle. in some ways this camp is relatively well off: a committee was organized to run day-to-day life here, there have been regular water deliveries, and people are making the transition from handmade shelter, to weatherproof tents. but almost three weeks since the quake, there's been just one delivery of food. and it wasn't going well. the colombian red cross was trying to give out family food kits. thousands who had first waited in line for coupons were now in long, snaking columns waiting for food, and surrounded by hundreds more of the hungry. without security, without a workable system for handing out the boxes-- it was a mess, and the colombians finally closed the doors to the shipping container. milcon couronne is the leader of the committee trying to run the camp. >> ( translated ): the biggest problem is distribution.
every time they try to give something out a small percentage gets a lot, and a large percentage doesn't get anything. >> suarez: couronne and his committee have made a census of all the camp residents, and offered to help aid donors organize food drops. he says the committee was ignored. could they do better? >> ( translated ): i can't guarantee it, but if they gave us containers and gave us the food, we could make sure it doesn't happen this way again. >> suarez: trying to help the colombians was 29-year-old rachelle garnier, who lives with her 9-year-old son in a collection of sticks and bed sheets. >> ( translated ): people here have been really hungry. when food came for distribution, it was really voracious. people didn't act the way they're supposed to and there is a lot of food left but there weren't people to distribute so we asked if they could please come back again. >> suarez: no food. no security. right across the street from a large encampment of u.s. military, and pallets piled high with supplies. the people of mais gate have been promised more tents in the
coming days. >> i think the big issue is, first of all, to try to tackle, to try to prevent the outbreak of epidemics. >> suarez: dr. franck geneus of care decid to return home to haiti to run care's program here, two weeks before the earthquake. his own house destroyed-- by day, he practices medicine in the camps. he is in temporary housing now; his extended family is living in the courtyard in front of their home. dr. geneus worried about outbreaks of diarrhea, respiratory infections and malaria among the poorest haitians in the packed camps. but he's also worried about the professional class. they're not getting much help, and the country needs them more than ever. >> people that have their house, they generally belong to the mid and upper classes. and generally mid to upper class is not attractive for humanitarian people. >> suarez: they are as vulnerable as the poor, but they're also more mobile. >> they have lost their houses.
they have lost their way of living. lots of schools have been destroyed as well, so you get, my kids, for itance, they are not going to school and these are situations that we don't know how to deal with. >> suarez: listen to philesten sony. he's not faring well on the now meaner streets of port-au- prince. >> ( translated ): i personally haven't received anything. i'm a teacher at a school, i'm not used to fighting... to stand in line fighting for things. >> suarez: the schools are wrecked. the government has promised reopened schools by march. sony's considering his options, like joining a brother in new york. at the american embassy in port- au-prince, tim callaghan, leader of the u.s. agency for international developments disaster assistance response team, briefs his staff on the work of the day ahead. callaghan chooses not to stress new tents as heavily as hosting... getting people with
housing intact or repaired to take in people from the encampments. >> how can we locate assistance, to help these folks with taking in family? shelter kits, plastic sheeting, something more durable than tents in the rainy season. >> suarez: for callaghan, the appeal lies in being able to get people indoors quickly, and create employment in rehabbing houses. the people of port-au-prince are getting back to work-- private, public, and n.g.o. employers are paying crews to clear debris. callaghan notes rubble can be recycled, and materials like steel bars can be reclaimed instead of toted to a dump. >> certainly, we need to look at strategies that accomplish this in five months, because the rains are coming. >> suarez: meanwhile, minister delatour is meeting with a
haitian brain trust-- architects, designers, planners, all getting ready to house people, and his government. but the rumor mill has not helped. first, came word of 200,000 tents coming to haiti. >> somebody else said there were 20,000 tents in port-au-prince ready for distribution. somebody even said those tents had been given to the haitian government. the reality of it is that the most at that time, and i'm talking two days ago there were 3,000 tents in port-au-prince. >> suarez: a drop in the bucket, really. delatour said his government has to move quickly to make sure people don't build fragile homes, on vulnerable land, through regulation, something haitians have never done before. delatour called it, learning the lessons of this disaster. >> lehrer: ray's next report will look at rebuilding haiti's government.
>> woodruff: now, how to help small businesses as a way to create jobs. yesterday, president obama proposed using $30 billion from money re-paid to the troubled asset relief fund program to help community banks increase lending. last week, he announced a $33 billion tax credit for businesses that add jobs. and, in its budget blueprint the administration proposes other tax and federal loan measures. today mr. obama again focused on the issue at the meeting with senate democrats. >> what's happening is businesses, either because they can't find financing or because they're still just dipping their toe in the water, have been hesitant to hire full-time workers. and for us to start giving them some serious incentives, giving them additional access to financing, could accelerate a process that otherwise could
take a much longer time and, frankly, all those folks out there who are out of work right now, they just can't afford to wait any longer, they need it now. >> woodruff: we get two perspectives on the president's proposals. for that we turn to bill rys of the national federation of independent business, a member organization that represents small businesses. and john arensmeyer, president of the small business majority, a non profit advocacy organization. gentlemen, thank you both for being with us. let's take these proposals one by one. first, a couple of new tax breaks, including this $5,000 credit for businesses that add new employees. john arensmeyer, first of all, is that a good move? >> it is a good move, judy. it's a very targeted way to address the problem here in a very fiscally responsible way to address the problem. this actually worked for us back in the late 70 when is a similar program was enacted
, and employment rose 11.1%. this is not a panacea in and of itself. it needs to be looked at along with the other credit proposals put forth by the president, but it will, at the margins, enable businesses who are on the fence about hiring new workers to go ahead and do that . >> woodruff: how do you see it, bill rys? >> i take a little bit of issue with it. there's nothing wrong with providing a tax credit, we're skeptical this will be a big incentive to hire new workers. at the end of the day, a business brings in a new worker because they have work for the employee to do, and right now we see sales at an all-time low, near an all-time low for small business owners. so until customers start coming in the doork i don't necessarily think this $5,000 is going to be enough to intent vise the business owners to go out and bring in a new employee. >> woodruff: john arensmeyer, he's saying it's not enough of an incentive. >> it's one of
the many tools the president is putting forth to deal with a very serious problem . this is going to help businesss who are on the margin who , obviously, have to have the need in the first place but aren't sure how they want to proceed. it will help them on the margins and i will remind everybody, when you put money into small businesses, then that money gets into the economy, and that starts to increase confidence in the economy when people start to see unemployment going down, which in turn gen rats the economic growth that will help small businesses. so it's a cyclical thing here. this is only one of a number of different tools. >> woodruff: bill rys, let me ask you about another proposal, and that to eliminate the capital gains tax on stock and small businesses. this is a targeted thing. it's on investments just in the last year. >> well, one of the challenges with this proposal, it's very targeted. the number of small businesses that qualify are very small. it's only what we call a c-corp. only about 20%, 25% of small
business owners would qualify. 75% of small business owners are organized as a pass-through business. if we want to get serious about eliminating capital gains for small business, let's do it for all small business and for any capital asset they own, not just a stock. if they own an investment or a piece of property, i think we need to look big or a proposal like that. >> woodruff: john arensmeyer, how do you see that? >> again, i mean, it only attacks a portion of the problem i degree, in and of itself. it's not a panacea. we would be open to looking at an expansion of what has been proposed but these proposals have to be looked at in total. the $30 billion credit program proposed by the president, the increase in sba funding pending in congress that has been passed on a bipartisan vote, and of course the capital gains tax-- no one of these things is going to solve the prob its own. >> woodruff: staying with you, john arensmeyer. what about taking the tarp money the money repaid by big banks, and spending $30 billion of it on-- making it available
through community banks to small businesses? >> well, that's consistent with the goals of the tarp program, which was to get money into the community so that people would hire. that hasn't been super successful at the small business level, but community banks are where small businesses borrow 67% of their money. so this is a very targeted way to take a portion of the money, which by the way, is all going to get repaid so it's extremely fiscally responsible, and it's going to have a very targeted short-term effect, which is what we need right now. >> woodruff: bill rys, you i have problem with that. >> spending $350 billion being called fiscally responsible, i don't know if i would agree with that. small business owners want to see some certainty. one of the big challenges a lot of small business owners are facing are a number of new proposals coming out of washington. getting more money into the community banks, i don't know if that's going to solve the problem. they're hearing a mixed message out of washington, just like small business owners are.
on the one hand, washington is saying get out, small business owners and hire new workers but they're also being told your taxes might go up, you might see health care mandates, new energy costs. we're getting a mixed message out of washington. not only are the economic problems impacting wall street, keeping them on the sidelines, but they're hearing a lot of problematic proposals coming out of washington. they're going to increase the cost of doing business at a time when they just don't have the cash flow to meet--. >> woodruff: are you saying these uncertainties override any of these measures the administration is making? >> i think so. look, when you talk about, for example, the capital gains proposal, i mean, it's a couple of million dollars. but when you're talking about things like letting the current tax rates expire, letting certain cap-- other capital gains taxes expire, new health care mandates. that's not a drop in the bucket, a couple of million dollars for the capital gains proposal. >> woodruff: how do you respond to that , john arensmeyer. we have address each of those on its own. shurkt single biggest need for
small business and is critical in getting our deficit down and bringing down costs. these programs are in and of themselves beneficial. and you look at them all together. they're going to have a significant dent in getting money to small businesss so they can hire new workers. >> woodruff: and his overall point, that businesses-- there's just this uncertainty because there are so many proposals that are out there , and these small business owners don't know how they're going to turn out what, they're going to mean? >> he's absolutely correct. those-- there is a lot of uncertainty, and there is a lot of counsel fusion and people are scared. there's absolutely no question about this. the beauty of the proposals the president put forth is they're targeted, fiscally responsible, and altogether they can help deal with the problem. even all together, we still have a long way to go to pulling out of this recession. but these are tools in our arsenal to address a fundamental problem that's happening at the small business level right now. >> that's part of the issue about being targeted.
last year we said-- the nfib said, we talked to our members they said how about a payroll tax cut? at the beginning of last year. that would have been an intentive to retain workers because it would reduce the cost of labor, put money back into the employer's pocket. it would put money back into the employees' pocket. it would have been a far more effective way to help main street and small businesses than a $787 stimulus that never reached main street sglu on balance, you're saying they shouldn't be doing any of these things. >> there's nothing wrong with a lot of these proposals. they're very targeted. but that's some of the challenges. while some of these things will help some business orbs it's hiring tax credit is going to help a business who was probably going to hire that work anyway. at the same time , like i said, that's a lot of concern out there about taxes going up, health care mandates, energy money days, economic uncertainty of the last year followed by policy uncertainty is not a good-- is not a good economic environment for job growth. >> woodruff: all right, gentlemen, we're going to have
to leave it there. we thank you very much. i know we will be come back to this. john arensmeyer, bill rys, thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> lehrer: finally tonight, a story of art and war, past and present. jeffrey brown reports. >> reporter: 8:00 a.m. on a cold winter morning at the marine corps base myer-henderson hall, in arlington, virginia-- not a typical time, place, or audience for a classical greek drama. in fact, this performance had a very special goal: to link ancient and modern warriors in an understanding of war's pain and mental agony. >> ajax. ajax. my name is a sad song. who would have thought it would someday become the sound a man makes in despair. >> reporter: the "theater of war" is the brainchild of writer and director brian doerries, who studied classics in college.
his insight: that a theatrical experience can help unlock the inner grief and suffering that many soldiers bring back from war zones. >> theater will give permission for people to see themselves in an ancient narrative and then be made to feel less alone by that and given the opportunity to ( groaning ) >> reporter: the concept is simple: four actors read scenes from plays written in the 4th century b.c. by sophocles-- who, not incidently, had himself been a general in the athenian army. >> let's see them steal my arms now! >> reporter: in "ajax", set during the ten-year-long trojan war, a great hero loses his mind and slaughters animals, thinking they're men, before taking his own life. at one point, his distraught wife describes him in terms that sound eerily familiar. >> our fierce hero sits shell- shocked in his tent, glazed over, gazing into oblivions.
he has the thousand-yard stare. >> reporter: in "philoctetes," a wounded soldier has been left behind by his army and despairs alone. >> i am wretched, afflicted and alone with no one to talk to. i have no friends. >> reporter: after the reading, panelists discuss what they've seen and the audience-- soldiers, family members, healthcare workers-- are encouraged to speak up. doerries says he knew he was on to something at the very first performance in san diego in 2008. >> it was a very frightening experience for me. i mean, here i was with these actors from new york and l.a. we were up on stage reading greek drama to 400 marines and their spouses and chaplains. and we scheduled the town hall meeting to go on after the performance just thinking a short discussion could be had. and what we scheduled for 45 minutes lasted over three and a half hours. and there was a certain point in the evening where i had my "ah- ha" where i saw almost 50 people
lined up at the microphone with comments and each person who came up to the microphone quoted lines from the plays. >> reporter: indeed, while stress in battle is not new, it's become a major problem in today's armed forces. according to a 2008 rand study, 300,000 iraq and afghanistan veterans suffer post traumatic stress or major depression. and on the very week we watched a "theater of war" performance, the department of veterans affairs reported that between 2005 and 2007, the suicide rate for male vets between 18 and 29 had jumped 26%. >> yes, you could term this an epidemic. it is a crisis of enormous proportions and as such is receiving that level of emphasis and attention. >> reporter: bridgadier general loree sutton, a psychiatrist who heads a defense department center on mental health and brain injuries, attended an early performance of "theater of war" and saw it as an effective tool.
>> for years, there has been the concern, you know, if i mention suicide to someone who's in crisis maybe that will plant the idea, maybe that will lead them to suicide. what we know now is that research has shown time and time again that nothing could be further from the truth. in fact, it's a relief to be able to engage. >> what really hit home for me is a u.s. soldier came in and had to physically clean him with the scrub brushes we use before surgery and pick the wood out of his face. >> reporter: after a recent performance at the walter reed army medical center, retired staff sergeant katisha smittick described watching a fellow solider die. she'd been treated for p.t.s.d. here after serving in iraq. she said the play hit home. >> that was the part that really
shocked me because i'm like, "this is something that happened so long ago, how could they feel the same thing i feel right now?" it's so obvious to see someone without an arm or a leg and missing an eye and automatically we feel very sympathetic for those people but you never know what someone is going through on a mental basis. because you don't want anyone to know that's the deepest hidden secret that you could ever have. >> reporter: marine sergeant john eubanks, wounded in both of his two tours of duty in iraq, hit bottom after returning home. >> i ended up being a little self-destructive. i was big on alcohol, ruined some relationships, work suffered, and it took awhile before i figured out this was not good and it took some intervention from some good friends to mine to tell me, "hey, you've got to get help and get going." >> reporter: is it hard to admit that you have this problem because it feels like weakness?
>> a little bit. and a lot of it is you just don't realize it. you don't relate it to combat because all these problems typically come when you come back and you sit there and you're like, "well, this can't be from the war. i mean, i'm back home. this is supposed to be the easy part." i relate a lot to philoctedes and ajax. >> reporter: eubanks was so moved by the "theater of war" experience that he now joins in panel discussions and works with gen. gen. sutton on these issues. another marine who's embraced the "theater of war" is sergeant major ronald green, with 26 years of service, including in somalia and iraq. he now sits on a department of defense task force on suicide prevention and said it was the story of "ajax" that hit him hardest. >> in the end when ajax committed suicide, when he went on and killed himself, i think over and over and over again for every suicide that we have, i try to relate to "what was the
last moment in that marine's life? what were they thinking about? what made them feel hopeless? that's what we have to understand. >> reporter: for the actors, too, this is a new and sometimes transforming experience. bill camp, a broadway and film veteran and tamara tunie, of "law and order: svu" said it was they who were moved by the audience. >> you can see them, you can feel them, you can hear them. it's almost more exciting because i feel that anything could happen really. >> there is a dynamic in the room that is different when the room is full of veterans. >> reporter: you can feel it? >> there are those that actually come forward and listen and the room changes and then, because >> suarez: the department of defense has provided funds so
that "theater of war" can visit 50 military sites over the next year. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: the obama administration defended it's handling of terror cases. attorney general holder said the decision to try the airliner bombing suspect in federal courts follows past practice. a motorcycle bomb tore through and a roadside bomb in pakistan killed three u.s. military trainers near the afghan border. the "newshour" is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari? >> sreenivasan: how do toyota's troubles affect communities across the country? our "patchwork nation" map shows where toyota's sales were highest and dante chinni looks at whether other companies could capture those markets. we have a new study on how more of ray's interview with the haitian minister of tourism. and on "art beat," extended interviews from jeff's story on the "theater of war" all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight.
i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: every business day, bank of america lends nearly $3 billion to individuals, institutions, schools, organizations and businesses in every corner of the economy. america-- growing stronger everyday. chevron. pacific life.
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